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How to Dress Well

What Is This Heart? (Domino)

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., Aug. 22, 2014

Phases & Stages

How to Dress Well

What Is This Heart? (Domino)

On 2010's Love Remains, Tom Krell debuted unshakably raw. The smooth, Chicago-born tenor behind How to Dress Well countered that with production gloss on Total Loss two years later, sadness being the only common thread between the two. His angst returns on What Is This Heart?, but he marries the two aural extremes, resulting in the most memorable and lovely work of his four-year career. Krell could be a quirky, depressed companion to Justin Timberlake, his R&B, piano ballads, and electronic pop ably Top 40, albeit with considerably more grit. The heart of opener "2 Years On (Shame Dream)" lies in the vocal performance, accompanied by little more than a wavering, soulful delivery and piano. A blink later, "What You Wanted" nets the sing-along quality of R&B prince Miguel. The delicate, digitized string swell of "Pour Cyril" sits alongside the deconstructed pop beat of "Repeat Pleasure." It's a smörgåsbord of carefully culled influence, one that Krell indulges in with gusto.

***.5

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